Physician InformationPatient Information

Atrial Septal Defect


Issues for the mother

Which forms of birth control are safe?

For women with a repaired ASD, all forms of birth control (medical term: contraceptives) are safe. Women with an unrepaired ASD are at a slightly increased risk for stroke (blood clots). Estrogen-containing contraceptives, usually in the form of pills, are associated with blood clots and therefore should be used with caution in women who have had a previous stoke or heart rhythm problems. If there is any doubt about the safety of a contraceptive, it should be discussed with a doctor who has an understanding of your underlying heart condition. (see Birth Control)

What are my risks if I become pregnant?

Most women with a repaired or unrepaired ASD tolerate pregnancy well. There is a small risk of heart related complications, such as heart rhythm problems (medical term: arrhythmias), weakening of the heart muscle (medical term: heart failure) or stroke (see above). Other cardiac characteristics can have an impact on outcomes (see General Considerations).

If women have high blood pressures in their lungs and low oxygen levels, the risk of pregnancy is very high and is discussed elsewhere. (see Eisenmenger Syndrome).

Some medications are not safe in pregnancy. Do not stop medications without first checking with your doctor, but do check your medications out before pregnancy so you will have a plan. If you did not do that, then do so as soon as you know you are pregnant. The MOTHERISK website is an excellent resource.


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